Nish will join from 1 May, initially for a three-year term which, subject to re-election by shareholders in 2017, will expire at the conclusion of the 2020 AGM.
He joins as an independent non-executive director, and will sit on the group audit committee.
HSBC praised Nish - who is currently non-executive director of Vodafone, London Stock Exchange, UK Green Investment Bank and Zurich Insurance Group - for having successfully repositioned Standard Life to "concentrate on its investment management and distribution businesses" during his time at the helm.
Group chairman Douglas Flint said: "David brings considerable relevant experience in financial services as well as in financial accounting and reporting.
"His tenure at Standard Life was marked by business transformation delivering value creation, a combination which HSBC is similarly targeting from its current strategy. David also has a wide-ranging understanding of all aspects of corporate governance which will further enhance the contribution he can make to the board.
"We very much look forward to him joining us."